Chobe, Botswana

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How did Dede get those elephants to stand in line like that?  There’s even a baby in there!

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Good health and good habits, I suppose.  Not sweating the small stuff.  Dede makes everything look easy!

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We couldn’t wait to take Mimi and Dede on a safari, to see what makes living in Africa so magical.  Majestic rivers that are home to hippos and crocodiles, hot savannahs waving with tall grass.  And quiet.

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Maybe that is the most amazing thing?  That we are alone out here with the animals, on a River Boat cruise right out of Disneyland, except that this is not Disneyland.  Everything is real!  Every time we do this, I think “Wow, Disney nailed it.”  They even captured the joy.  Which is pretty much how we felt from the beginning all the way to the end!

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We arrived at the Botswana border around 8am, and were thankful for our tourist visas, which meant we didn’t have to wait in this line:

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The signs made it clear that we were not in Kansas anymore.

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They have guns, but everyone is really nice!

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Chobe National Park is in near the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana.  The only place on earth where four countries meet in one place.  Sort of like Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, but in Africa!

The sun was up and already getting hot as we started our River Cruise.  The safari hats seem so “cliche” but we need them!  I was happy to have my floppy safari hat even under the shade of the roof.  Thanks again for those hats, Paul and Jaclyn!

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Our boat captain was pretty good at finding things for us to see.

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Hey, look at that guy!  Don’t fall in the water kids!

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We didn’t need to worry too much, since Jake and Eli were distracted by their cans of juice.  They got to drink the whole can.

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It is still unbelievable that the white birds actually DO sit on hippos like that!  It is not just in the cartoons!

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Then this guy came sauntering out of the woods.

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Our boat captain was fearless, and we soon found ourselves surrounded on all sides by elephants.  We were nosed into the beach, and they surrounded us in front, behind, and on both sides.  Is this safe?  Should we be nervous?

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We were sort of unsure, but became very unsure when this guy came charging at us!  You aren’t supposed to get close to elephants with babies.  Like humans, they are very protective of their young, and this guy was mad.  He roared and flapped his ears to tell us so!

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Okay, back up!  Oh wait, there are elephants behind us too!  How do we get out of here?

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After a few tense minutes of wondering whether the elephants were going to tear into our boat, the engine finally kicked in fast enough to get us out of there, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  Made it!

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After all that morning excitement, it was nice to step off the boat for a break and to have lunch before the afternoon game drive.  There is the lodge, on the side of the river, like all lodges here in Africa.  Poised at the water’s edge to see hippos and glowing orange sunsets over the grass.

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Also a good place to have a beer and watch the crocodiles play.

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In the afternoon, we climbed into our “off-roading vehicle” as the boys like to call it, with three sisters from South Africa who were traveling together with their Mom for a girl’s weekend.

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Our driver immediately decided to depart from the usual trail and drive off through the bush in search of a lion.  It wasn’t long before we saw what we came for!  The “road” was nothing more than tire tracks faintly visible in the dirt, and the going was pretty rough.

After coming out of the trees, we found this water buffalo relaxing in a pond with three birds on his head.

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Smart, it seems.  He knows that cats don’t like water!  Because just a few hundred yards away, we found these guys:

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There was a whole pride of them, at least four or five females and the one big guy, sleeping under the trees.  The remains of an elephant and a horde of vultures were on nearby lying in the grass, and both Mimi and I agreed that was gross and we didn’t need to put up pictures of that.  We’ll leave it to your imagination.  But lions!!  A male lion!!!  The males are so rarely seen in the wild, I guess we were lucky today!

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We stayed off the beaten path for most of the afternoon and rounded out our wildlife viewing.

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Our driver was amazing.  He really seemed interested in giving us a great experience, and went out of his way to get us up close to things we’d never seen before, and might never see again.  It’s crazy how every time you do a safari, it’s a totally different experience.  Now I understand the safari “addiction” that makes you want to keep doing them over and over again.  What will happen this time?  What will we see?  It’s the thrill of adventure, mixed with an experience that gets you up close to the pulse of the earth without using technology or speakers or anything else invented by man.  How awesome is that?

Pretty awesome.  Thanks Chobe, you did it again!

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